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Two Decades of Kids and Counting

By Sally Torbey

About this blog: About this blog: I have enjoyed parenting five children in Palo Alto for the past two decades and have opinions about everything to do with parenting kids (and dogs). The goal of my blog is to share the good times and discuss the ...  (More)

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Finding the fun in fundraising

Uploaded: Mar 13, 2014
Up until a few weeks ago, I have assiduously avoided fundraising. With my medical background, I felt I could be more useful lice checking at school, instructing scouts on the Heimlich maneuver, and providing first aid on a camping trip. But I surprised myself by recently agreeing to serve on a capital campaign committee for an organization for which I care deeply.

Volunteerism is vital to our community. The commitment to a greater common good is essential to our high performing schools, enriching extracurricular activities programs, religious life, and environment and service programs. Volunteering makes our community the vibrant place we choose to live.

But there are so many worthwhile ways to contribute time and energy, sometimes I have found myself overwhelmed, racing from one activity to the next. Recently, I have tried to be more thoughtfully deliberate as I choose in which opportunities to participate. I reflect on whether the cause is truly compelling to me. Does this fit my passions, my interests and my skill set? Am I saying yes because I enthusiastically embrace this cause or am I acquiescing to guilt, or wanting to please or impress others? Does the commitment permit me to meet my other obligations?

Thoughtful deliberation is important because volunteering with reluctance or resentment diminishes the effectiveness of the work accomplished.

This is the first time fundraising has made it past thoughtful deliberation. And even so, in the initial weeks of the campaign I wondered whether I had made the right choice. As fundraising goes, this is probably as easy as it gets. A feasibility study showed widespread support for the project and the goal was realistic and attainable. And yet, I felt like folks were avoiding eye contact with me now that I was going to be asking them for a financial contribution! I also unexpectedly encountered folks who declined to participate and I was devastated, taking the refusals as an indication of my inadequacies as a fundraiser.

Those both wiser and more experienced in these matters advised me to rethink what makes a campaign successful. I was urged to focus on bringing folks together around a shared vision and reframe the process as an opportunity for me to connect again with old friends, make new friends, and excite folks about a common interest and passion. As is so often the case, it is the process that is most important, not the product. A process that engages folks, giving them a sense of being part of something bigger, and with a shared purpose, will ultimately be the most productive and successful for the community. Focusing on the community building aspect of fundraising has also made this process more meaningful and enjoyable for me!
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Posted by PAFE volunteer, a resident of College Terrace,
on Mar 13, 2014 at 11:04 am

Bravo! Sally! Fundraising is finding people who share your passion for community and solutions! And the only thing harder than receiving a "no!" is receiving no response. Lesson learned when people solicit me: always respond promptly, even if it is no.

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Mar 13, 2014 at 11:08 am

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Hi PAFE volunteer,
Thanks for reading and commenting. Without a doubt, I will also respond promptly to solicitations in the future. I also plan on deliberately making eye contact with those soliciting!

Posted by Mother of 4, a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Mar 13, 2014 at 5:31 pm

Sometimes it is easier to raise money than to raise volunteers. It is surprising how often people will write a check to support a "good cause" rather than lift a finger to help. On the other hand, it is often the case that you can get so many people willing to help but nobody to actually do the work, they look on the activity as a social activity rather than a work session.

Yet, many people do work hard, contribute what they can and are genuinely interested in helping whichever way they do.

The important thing I think is that the spirit of community is enhanced by volunteering and giving, both are important. Sometimes the giving is time of course, but it is interesting that the giving can be meals, homebaked goods, gently used books/clothes or even skills such as carpentry or sewing. To be part of a community it is important to contribute to the community as you have discovered. It is often only when people receive something they need in a time of need that a lot of people realize this. Fortunately, others like yourself have worked it out beforehand.

Thanks for this topic, it is food for thought for everyone.

Posted by PR, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Mar 13, 2014 at 6:31 pm

I love this blog!

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Mar 13, 2014 at 8:42 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Thanks, Mother of 4, for reading and commenting! Yes, there are a lot of ways to give. Another surprising aspect of this capital campaign is that I've become more familiar with all of the ways people support this institution, some of which I was totally unaware until taking this on.

Thanks, PR!

Posted by BLH, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Mar 13, 2014 at 8:53 pm

What a great reminder to be deliberate, and that even still, insecurities and frustrations can arise! We are fortunate in so many ways to have you as a part of the community.

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Mar 13, 2014 at 8:59 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Thanks, BLH! We are fortunate that you are willing to share your gifts in so many ways!

Posted by LJ, a resident of another community,
on Mar 14, 2014 at 6:56 am

The process helps the community build for a future beyond the campaign. Lots of lessons here. Thanks, Sally!

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Mar 14, 2014 at 7:33 am

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Hi LJ,
Thanks for your comment, nicely stated!

Posted by GC, a resident of Community Center,
on Mar 23, 2014 at 11:24 am

Thank you for sharing your very human experiences and the wisdom shared with you by others who have gone before. I will repeat the best two words in our vocabulary to you... Thank You.

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Mar 23, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Dear GC,
You are very welcome! Thanks for reading and commenting!

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